PMCS Goes Digital: Teaming Up to Build Apps for the Future
By by Sarah West, LRCFebruary 22, 2013
The Power Environmental Directorate (PED) of the CECOM Logistics Readiness Center (LRC) strives to make preventative maintenance information regarding mobile power more accessible to the Warfighter. In partnership with the Field Support Directorate (FSD), PED designed and developed a mobile application or an "app" that can be downloaded to any Android phone or tablet and provides the same Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services (PMCS) information found in Technical Manuals.PED's mission is to provide the Warfighter superior sustainment logistics support for power, heating, and cooling equipment. That includes providing equipment maintenance information and procedures in the paper Technical Manuals (TMs) or Electronic Technical Manuals (ETMs) viewable as a PDF in Adobe Acrobat. Logistics Assistance Representatives (LARs) report that Soldiers frequently misplace or aren't carrying their generator set TMs and cannot perform PMCS and scheduled maintenance tasks per the TM requirements. Not performing prescribed maintenance leads to premature component failures, increased life cycle costs, decreased readiness rates, longer repair times and unnecessary parts replacement. The information in most Generator and Environmental Control Unit (ECU) TMs do not have distribution restrictions and thus can be released in other formats. The Extensible Markup Language (XML) source documentation is ideally suited to creating other formats, such as an app.The Power PMCS App is a management and learning tool available to the operator and field maintainer. Everything a Soldier needs to know about doing maintenance on his or her generator set can be graphically displayed on his or her phone or a tablet computer. The app tracks users' interactions with the information presented; it tracks what maintenance was done by whom, when, where, and whether or not the user found equipment defects during the PMCS procedures. The new app helps engage equipment operators and maintainers to improve compliance with and performance of PMCS, scheduled maintenance tasks, and un-scheduled maintenance tasks by providing them an accessible, interactive, entertaining, and easy way to access generator set information.PED and FSD presented the app at the 2012 PM Mobile Electric Power user conference. At least 77 military members at the conference downloaded the app directly onto their smart phones on the spot. We received feedback requesting new features to the PMCS app, such as barcode and serial number scanning and more equipment support. Military members asked about the possibility of customizing the PMCS app for the various branches of the armed services. Several individuals had ideas for other apps that would help support their missions. Many liked the idea of a global equipment tracking system or apps and were excited at the prospect of having apps that supported additional maintenance functions.The Department of the Army is looking at opportunities and testing apps for Soldiers to use on smart phones and mobile tablet computers on the battlefield. CECOM's vision challenges the directorates to improve business processes using new technology to reduce total life cycle ownership cost of C4ISR systems. PED and FSD teamed up to break new ground in support of this broader organizational mission.